Monthly Archives: June 2007

APEX 3.0.1 released

Oracle have just released Application Express 3.0.1.

There is a full 3.0.1 release which is publically available (and can use this to upgrade the Application Express within your XE databases!), there is also a 3.0.1 patchset which can be downloaded from Metalink for those people currently using 3.0.

You can find more details about 3.0.1 on the main Application Express page on OTN, you can also view the patchset notes here.

It’s all in the question

These days I get quite a lot of emails from people asking general questions about Application Express, or have questions about a specific problem (ranging from installation issues through to some quite obscure, difficult to replicate situations).

Now, I do try and answer these questions as quickly as I can (which is a general rule I have with email, mainly because if I don’t respond as soon as I can then it tends to sink lower and lower into my inbox).

I have noticed over time that these questions tend to fall into two general categories –

  • The person takes the time to explain, in sufficient detail, exactly what the problem is and all the relevant pieces of information that might be related to the problem.
  • They don’t…they assume that somehow I magically know as much about their internal systems as they do.

In the first case, I’m often able to simply respond to their email with my thoughts and possible solution etc, in the second case it usually means lots of emails flying back and forth as I try and extract the extra information that I need.

However, just lately, I’ve noticed a new breed of question, the question without a question question.

As an example, I received this the other day:

We have installed apex and SSO and it isnt working

Seriously, that was it, that’s all the email said. So, is that a question? Is it just a statement? (Did they just want to let me know that it’s not working?). Is it APEX that isn’t working? Is it SSO (Single Sign On) that isn’t working? Do they both work independently but don’t co-operate together? Your guess is as good as mine.

Now I do of course make extra allowances when English is obviously not the persons first language, being English (and therefore genetically incapable of learning another language) I admire anyone who can speak/write another language, so this isn’t about whether they can phrase their question into good english, it’s about whether they even attempt to or not.

In the previous example, even though the sentence was extremely short, it was very good english and I was able to understand it (even though I didn’t understand what was being asked of me).

As a second example, I got an email from someone just a few weeks ago, who stated this:

Hello, we are looking at different technologies for our projects, including Application Express. Please advise on this.

Now what the heck am I being asked here? Am I being asked to advise on why they should use Application Express? (I know nothing about the project, so how can I reasonably say whether it’s a good idea or not?), or are they asking me to advise on whether I think it’s a good idea that they’re looking at different technologies? (Sure, it’s always a good idea to weigh up the options).

So, if I had to list the three things which make for a perfect ‘Help me’ type email for me, they would be –

  1. Problem – tell me in sufficient detail what you’re experiencing, how the problem manifests itself etc.
  2. Situation – give me enough information about your internal infrastructure, scenario, situation etc to be able to visualise the context in which the problem is occuring.
  3. And, most importantly –

  4. Resolution – be explicit about exactly what you want from me. Do you want me to solve a problem? Are you asking for my opinion on something? Do you want me to quote you a consultancy rate to do some work for you? What is it *exactly* you want from me?

Now, I’m in no way writing this blog entry to dissuade people from emailing me for help, because actually I do enjoy getting those emails since for one thing they’re a great way for *me* to learn new things too (I often find people using APEX features in ways that I don’t use them, or perhaps they’re using a feature that I thought I understood and I find out I didn’t really understand it, I just *thought* I did).

The point of this post, is to try and stress how important it is to be clear about what question you’re asking and what help you need, if you want a good example of exactly why that’s important, take a look at this:

dear miriam

As an addendum, I did actually email those two people and ask for their permission to show the emails here, but neither of them replied….perhaps I wasn’t clear about what I was asking for?

Clearing out the cupboards

I had a bit of a ‘spring clean’ in my study this afternoon…ok, it wasn’t so much a spring clean as trying to find somewhere to put some CD’s that wasn’t already full. I found a couple of old CDs that I got from OTN a few years back.

Oracle WebDB 2.2

The first CD was Oracle WebDB version 2.2 for Linux, which is often (but incorrectly) referred to as one of the first incarnations of Application Express. There is a good description of the history of Application Express here.

I first used WebDB on a project many many years back and thought it was absolutely fantastic (well, it was for the time anyway), sure it has some quirks and didn’t always work the way you wanted it, but it was a very advanced product for its time and I enjoyed using it.

The second CD was a bit of a surprise, considering I would hardly consider myself as having had much to do with JDeveloper, but apparently at some point OTN sent me a CD of JDeveloper 3.1 (for Windows NT).

JDeveloper 3.1

I do remember having a look at JDeveloper back then, but never really ‘got into it’ that much (it was more of an R&D exercise rather than using it on a project).

Now that I have tools like Parallels and VMware it might be ‘fun’ one day to resurrect an old Windows NT or Linux build and install these old tools just to see how they compare with todays offerings.

It’s amazing what you find when you’re not looking for something.

OOW 2007 Call for Papers?

Since I caught the ‘presenting bug’ after presenting at Collaborate 07 and I could not attend the ODTUG Kaleidoscope event which kicks off in the next few days, my thoughts turned to OOW 2007 (I’ve already submitted an extra to the UKOUG event in December 2007).

I was a bit surprised to find that there didn’t appear to be a ‘Call For Papers’ for OOW, even though the OOW Event is before the UKOUG event (which has already closed the CFP). Unless I’m mistaken, it looks like OOW stopped doing a ‘public CFP’ a few years ago and now you need to be invited to submit a paper (a previous presenter, Oracle Partner etc).

It’s a bit of a shame as I would have loved to present something about Application Express at OOW, since it’s the biggest event of it’s kind and I really enjoyed being at OOW last year (it seems so long ago now!). The interest in Application Express at OOW 2006 was great, there were some really enthusiastic people and we had a great time with the APEX SIG meetings, there were also some great APEX presentations.

So, unless someone knows differently, it doesn’t like I’m going to be able to submit something for OOW, so I hope my UKOUG submission is accepted!

VMWare Fusion

I’ve been a long time user of VMWare, so I’m pleased to see that it’s getting closer to the time when we can have VMWare available on OSX. I’ve been using the Beta version of VMWare Fusion for a few weeks and actually prefer it to Parallels, don’t get me wrong though Parallels is a great piece of software and I’d be lost without it (even though I made the ‘switch’ to Mac a couple of years ago now there are still a few Windows apps that I need to use from time to time).

I also noticed that VMware is running a special deal at the moment where you can pre-order Fusion and save yourself 50% off the list price, which is a pretty good deal and I’ll definitely be signing up for it.

APEX Training Update

We have had a lot of interest and registrations already in our European APEX Training being held in Brussels in September 2007, however we’ve also had a lot of feedback from people that they haven’t been able to get approval from their companies quick enough to meet our early bird price offer.
So, to prove we take all feedback seriously! We have now extended the early bird pricing to the 30th of June and will honour all those people who have registered after the original early bird date passed.

The training will be given by some of the worlds leading experts in Application Express –

  • John Scott (myself!) – Oracle ACE, Application Express Developer of the Year 2006 and Author of Pro Application Express.
  • Dimitri Gielis – Specialist in APEX and Oracle Database features, VP of IOUG APEX SIG, OCP (8i/9i/10g), Maker of the WorldCup 2006 APEX application
  • Mystery Guest (subject to confirmation) – perhaps we should run a sweepstake on who you think it is?! But if all goes to plan you will be *really* pleased….and no it’s not Britney Spears!

The presenters not only share a passion for APEX, but are also amongst the most knowledgeable people in the APEX world (contributing thousands of posts to the Application Express forum), we are members of the APEX SIG and also arrange APEX Meetups during major Oracle conferences.

So, if you’re looking for the highest quality Application Express training in Europe, then sign up and see you there!